With 12 films, shorts and TV shows under his belt (including hosting Māori Television talk show O Whakaaro), in 2010 Tainui Tukiwaho scored his biggest role to date: starring as legendary entertainer Billy T James in telemovie Billy. He also played a role in another based-on-a-true-story tele-film, Tangiwai. Fluent in te reo, the 2001 Unitec graduate is one of the team behind Auckland’s Smackbang Theatre.
My understanding is that at one point he was filming during the day and doing live gigs at night. I just don't know how he did it ... I only pretended to do it and I was exhausted! Tainui Tukiwaho on Billy T James - Sunday Star-Times, 14 August 2011
Xmas Eve 1953: Cricketer Bob Blair (Ryan O'Kane) is in South Africa, days away from batting for New Zealand. His fiancée Nerissa Love (The Lovely Bones' Rose McIver) is boarding an ill-fated train, that will plunge into the Whangaehu River at Tangiwai, in our worst rail disaster. The Dominion Post's Linda Burgess found this tele-movie retelling of the tragic romance "first-rate", noting "consistently excellent" performances from O'Kane, McIver, and Miranda Harcourt as Nerissa's wary mother. The finale features a miniature train built by Weta Workshop.
“Everyone plays a part. Who’s going to play yours?”. This tagline is given a Twilight Zone twist in this Moa-nominated feature about two Jakes. Jacob (Jason Fitch) is an everyman who is made redundant when his life is ‘recast’ by a shadowy agency. When the new, more confident Jake (Being Eve's Leighton Cardno, also award-nominated) makes moves on his lost love, Jacob fights to get his life back. The Listener’s David Larsen tweeted of Doug Dillaman's indie-funded debut: “The smartest bit of low-fi high-IQ science fiction New Zealand has produced.”
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an eponymous inner city Auckland hospital. A South Pacific Pictures production, the iconic show is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week, and in 2012 the show celebrated its 20th anniversary making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture, most famously, “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!”.